Yoga love, my yoga love

Yes, I’m singing “Baby love” by The Supremes while typing this, and YES, I know. Another post about my love for yoga? Yep. Because last night in yoga, well, it was amazing. A-maz-ing.

No one else in class could hear me silently cheering for myself as I did not one, not two, but three things I had never been able to do before. I wanted to stop the class and say “Look what I can do!!”. And I was in Savasana, I was already taking mental notes for this blog post. And thinking about how things in my life have changed so much in the past 2 and a half years since I began this journey that I never ever ever thought I would.

This practice has taken me from overweight to fit, from insecure to confident, from anxiety to (mostly) calm. Oh I still worry about stuff I can’t control, and have moments of complete freak out, but I also don’t stay in that space for long. I’ve learned to control what I can and let go of what I can’t.

I know a lot of non-yoga people get sooooooo sick of hearing yoga people talk about how great it is. But has anyone stopped to realize they’re singing yogas praises for a good reason?? It’s a body, mind and soul transformation. Not a lot of things can claim all three. I have a few runner friends who feel that way about running. I tried running. I know I can run, which is something I never thought I’d say either. But I had too many injuries and not a deep-in-my-soul love for it. So I get runner love. I hope they can appreciate my yoga love.

And in an effort to remain honest about my practice, yes I almost did fall over last night in a pose I’ve done a hundred thousand times. And I also know why. Because in that moment, that second, my mind drifted and I wasn’t focused. Of course I laughed with Julie because, well, hello? I almost fell over! But after I regained my balance and was realizing what I did wrong, it occurred to me that so many things in our lives are just like that pose and potential fall.

How many times have you lost focus in what you are doing? Things are going well, maybe you start to feel like you can coast a little instead of furiously pedaling, and then you start to swerve. Your resolve starts to waiver and you quickly get jolted back to what can happen if you lose that concentration. Hopefully you can correct your thinking and start again toward your goal. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a hard fall to see that you’ve totally lost your previous determination and it takes a scraped knee or elbow to see how far you fell.

This could be with anything: exercise, diet, anger, dating, addiction, career, kids, spouse, anything. Anything you are trying to change about yourself to make you a better you. Change isn’t easy. There is resistance, sometimes from others who don’t want to see you change, but most of the time, the resistance is right between your own ears. We think things of ourselves that we would never say outloud or to another person. We allow our bad thinking to take over and self sabotage our progress. “I’ll never lose that much weight” or “I’ll never get that promotion” or “I’ll never find someone who will treat me better. I deserve what I’m getting” or “I can have just one (or two or five) and no one will know.” We SAY these things to ourselves!! ACK!

What yoga has taught me is that what happens outside of my mat has nothing to do with me and if I focus on myself and what I can do, nothing can stop me. I can look inside and praise my little victories, even if no one else does. It’s MY victory after all. I can look at how far I’ve come and not be bogged down by how much further I have to go. I can control my mind, my actions, my day by how I respond to my own thinking. Basically, I can get out of my own way.

And by getting out of my own way, I’ve empowered myself. Even if I have a swerve. Or I lose concentration for a second. The more I practice, the stronger I am. The more you have people around you, supporting you, understanding what you’re doing and going through, the easier it is to acknowledge the slip and get right back up. And LEARN from it. Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?

yoga love

Overwhelmingly Overwhelmed?

Have you ever just had a day, where you feel the weight of everyone else’s world on your shoulders? Where you don’t know where to look or who to help or what to do, so the easiest thing to do is close the curtains and pretend you aren’t home? Uh huh. You know you have.

And the thing is, it’s not one or two big things. It’s more a culmination of many many many MANY little things. Sprinkle in a few big bombshells and BOOM, that crushing feeling is upon you. Divorces, family members not speaking to other family members, (some family members just fine with never speaking to a certain other family member again), affairs, lost loves, bankruptcy, cancer, alcoholism, recovery, friends struggling with friends, friends struggling with family, lost friendships, lost spouses, lost pets, children sick, weight loss, weight gain, kids struggling in school, with friends, with peers, with boyfriends or girlfriends…..OMG, I could seriously go on longer and that’s just in the past week!!!!!

This is the overwhelming part for me. And I have cried on enough shoulders and vented enough to my family and friends that I owe them my shoulder in their time of need. At least my shoulder. A few of them need me to call the divorce lawyer and pack up that spouse and kick them out. A few need me to get a shovel and a rural (unfrozen) parcel of land and start digging, if ya know what I mean. The fixer in me wants to wave my magic wand, sprinkle some fairy dust and make those impossibly difficult, narcissistic, egomaniac, selfish people into decent normal human beings. But I can’t do that and watching them struggle with this idiotic spouse/friend/person can be overwhelming.

High school kids are hard enough to deal with on good days. When they get mean for the sake of being mean, and hurtful for the sake of being hurtful, what can you do as parent? Most of the time they don’t want you involved anyway. So it gets tricky sometimes. But when the meanness causes your child to weep, do you step in? When and how do friends become enemies? It’s sad and overwhelming.

No matter how hard you try to be optimistic, or looking for the silver lining, what do you do when it’s hard to find? For the parent who finds their child suffering, suggesting they look on the bright side seems callous. What bright side? But do you allow it to make you become withdrawn? Bitter? Angry at the world? Or do you try to be a friend and walk a tightrope of not knowing what to say? A friend found out her daughter has cancer. How do you comfort them, especially when she wants to push everyone away? I don’t know how to help. It’s heartbreaking and overwhelming.

So how do you handle it? No really, I’d love to know. For me, I’m thankful today is a barre day, because even thought my triceps are still sore from Tuesday, I’m gonna work the hell out of them today! It’s gonna be a “sweat dripping off my nose” kind of work out. I know that I can’t be the fix it person to anyone but me. I can lend an ear, a shoulder, support. But I can’t fix it. Great lesson learned in Al Anon is that I can only be in charge of me and my behavior. No one can change someone else. You can try, but then you’re just manipulating. You don’t want to do that, do you? Cuz that’s just not nice. So I’m going to try to focus on me and what I need (this is the year is ME, right?) and I’m going to go work out. And I’m going to remember this:

Just try to be a good person. That’s enough. ~~ The Dalai Lama



The Life of a Procrastinator

I’m procrastinating…..RIGHT NOW!! Oh yea. Is it wrong to use my blog as a way to put stuff off? No, I didn’t think so. Cuz, really I’m doing something!! Just not what I should be doing. 

And I’m not even putting something off I don’t want to do. I got my 3 miles in. Awesome. I uploaded photos from yesterday’s beautiful wedding we attended for our dear friends daughter. (Just as a side note, I still can’t believe she’s old enough to be married! I still remember her as the little girl across the street. I cried many tears yesterday, but they were all happy tears!)

I also bought clothes to wear to the wedding. Clothes that I didn’t wear and need to return. This is where the procrastination kicks in. I have to go to the mall and I really really really don’t want to go back. Ugh! But I have to. I have 4 dresses that need returned. Sigh….

I’ve decided I no longer love to shop for myself. I used to L-O-V-E shopping! I imagined the day where my Richard Gere would hand me an AMEX Black card and get super offended when I told him the saleswomen were mean to me and he would escort me to the stores and insist, no demand, that they suck up to me. Of course, Roy Orbison would be playing on a constant loop as I twirled and giggled and fawned over the beautiful, perfectly fitting outfits the sucking up saleswomen brought for me. 

Yea, so, since THAT isn’t happening, I have to fend for myself. I discovered in this quest to find a dress, a simple freaking dress, that it’s way more difficult than anticipated. First of all, as I told a friend yesterday, I truly believe 95% of all clothes in the stores are separates. Not dresses. Tops and bottoms. Racks and racks. 3 dresses in the whole store. Is it the time of year? Is it that no one wears dresses anymore? I mean, what’s up with that?

Next on the problem list is that I now fall in between sizes. No big deal right? Wrong. Too tight and I look like a stuffed sausage. Too loose and it looks like tent. Not to mention that almost always, it’s guaranteed if I find a dress that I actually like, they won’t have my size. At all. I mean, there’s “too small” and then there’s size 2. Even 3 years AFTER my death, I will not wear a Size 2. 

So then, if I happen to find a dress that is close to my size, I snag it. And I study every flaw I find in my body for approximately 30 minutes. Bulge here. Too much cleavage there. Arm flab there. Sigh…. I yank it over my head, hang it back on the hanger and try the next one on. 

Then I just can’t decide which flaw is more noticeable in which dress. So I get them all. Bring them home, try them all back on again. I twirl. I bend over. I suck in. I try to breathe while sucked in. (Seriously, it’s a talent to be able to do that for long periods of time without passing out). I still can’t decide. Michael gets the final pick because honestly, I’m just exhausted at this point. I’d wear a sack or my sweats. Whatever. I don’t care. 

But now I have to return the 4 dresses that didn’t make the cut. I kept the one I actually wore to the wedding, but the rest are going back. And I’ll be in and out of the car, explaining why I don’t like it. Yes I tried it on before I bought it. Yes, I changed my mind. No, I didn’t wear it. See? Tags still on. SIGH………

But then I think of the money I spent on those 4 dresses and realize I need to get them back to the store. Maybe the laundry needs switching? Dishwasher need unloading? The floors for sure needs sweeping. 

OK, ok…..I’m going……..

Self-image: what’s true and what’s your own lie

I cleared out 6 boxes this morning. It great to actually see the wall in my basement again instead of boxes piled on boxes piled on boxes. It took me hours to go through 6 boxes and served to remind me why I kept those boxes for years. Some of them are from high school. MY high school! 

As I was clearing through them (and it really is pretty easy because there are only 2 piles: throw away or keep) I found things I couldn’t even remember and some that were bittersweet memories. I found an actual invitation to Honor Night from my senior year. I didn’t realize I went to class enough to even qualify for Honor Night! It was REAL!! I didn’t forge or fake it! I just stood there staring at that thinking….”Did I go to that? Why can’t I remember that?” One would think I could remember such a monumental occasion in my high school career since I’m positive it only happened that one time!! 

I found my uniform skirt. We were the last class to go through DeSales with only a skirt. The “Jumper” started after us. So by senior year, it was VERY easy to see who was a senior just by her uniform. Jumper = underclassmen. Skirt = Senior. Oh yes, we were very awesome in our herringbone skirts. Don’t mess with Catholic girls. 

I held up that skirt and looked at it, realizing I could now probably fit one leg in it, but in high school, I felt so fat. So many of the girls were skinny, and fit, and cheerleaders and had boyfriends and were the things that give girls eating disorders now. I had my size 10 skirt and was a fatass. At least in my head. I see pictures of me from back then and I think good grief, if ONLY I could have thighs that size again. But the whole time I had those skinny thighs, I thought almost daily, how fat I was compared to the other girls.

I don’t think that feeling ever goes away for high school girls and unfortunately, I think it has only gotten worse in this technology based era. Girls snapping photos of themselves in low cut shirts, thrusting their chests forward.  Shooting pictures of their asses in the mirror. Naked pictures that eventually wind up getting passed all around school and beyond. “Juicy” written across their butt. (For the record, if I would have ever dared to try to wear anything with the word “Juicy” written across my ass, my Dad would have not only burned that article of clothing, I guarantee any future shopping trips would be accompanied by him or my mom. Plus I would’ve been grounded for 18 years for even considering to wear it.)

The other girls, the other 95% that aren’t taking the pictures are looking at the pictures. They are sizing themselves up. Comparing. And the internal dialog starts. How do you ever quiet those voices? 

I’m going to share something that I have never ever mentioned to another soul. (That’s what blogging is for, right? Spilling your guts? Who is reading my trivial dribble anyway?) When I got my first “grown up” job at the ripe ole age of 19, working for a bank, a friend of mine and I were chatting in the breakroom, laughing about something. I distinctly remember laughing because the laughter abruptly stopped. Some douchebag (yes, I’m trying to bring douchebag back. Like “fetch”, but not.) guy in his mid 20s came up to us said, “You’re both pretty hot, but I would marry you (pointing to my friend) and not you (pointing to me) because after 25, the only thing that’s going to be skinny on you is your ankles.” And with that….he walked away.

It is now 27 years later, and I still remember what I had on that day. I don’t remember going to my Honor Night at school, but I remember this no name douchebag who insulted me so badly that I’ve never forgotten it. I still look at my ankles sometimes and think, yep, only skinny part of my body. How flipping insane is that?? And it’s all internal dialog.

We must teach daughters, and nieces, and cousins, and friends, and anyone else you can reach, that they do not have to have Juicy written across their ass. They don’t have to aspire to look like the Homecoming Queen or the latest model on the cover of Cosmo! Healthy, fit, confident. That’s what matters. Preach it to them. Daily. Because sometimes, you never know what voice their hearing inside their head.  

Purging – the new cleanse

Purging. It’s amazing how good it feels after you’ve gotten over the initial shock of it. It’s really a great feeling. Healthy even.

No, I’m not talking about throwing up, I’m talking about throwing out! After 20 years of marriage, 13 in the same house, it’s amazing how much crap gets accumulated. Stuff that you don’t even realize was right there, in your face, but you see it every day and don’t even think about it anymore.

We are going to be moving, sometime within a year or at the most 3 years. Its kind of up in the air and I don’t like the not knowing part. So I guess to deal with that stress, I’ve decided to purge. I’ve rationalized it as a way of organizing, what needs to be moved, what can be donated and repurposed for someone else, and what can be tossed.

First, I was overwhelmed with the amount of stuff we had in our modest 1800 sq ft home. So I decided to start in the basement where most of our crap ends up. I made a dent, but woah, it was still overwhelming. I decided to move to our spare bedroom and managed to clean that entire room. I threw bags away, created a growing pile for my nephews and have a very good start on items for our community garage sale. Keep, donate, sell, throw away.

As I was going through the room I also came to realize that we all have places to purge. We just need to take the time, have an honest eye and dig in. Whether its possessions, food, or your life. There is always room for improvement. Keep and hold dear what means something to you. Donate your time or money or stuff that will make a difference in someone elses life. Sell what is still useful but maybe not for you. And throw away what is not good for you in your life anymore.

I think it’s hard sometimes to distinguish between the donate, sell, throw away. That’s when you take a deep breath, carefully analyse, and make the decision. And you also get to be a bit selfish, because this is your life, and your purge. Holding on to your high school yearbook, that’s an easy one to put in the keep pile. Holding on a broken lamp, thinking it’s going to get fixed but you know it never will is best to be thrown away. Or donated because maybe someone else can fix with what’s wrong with it.

Yoga Convert

I survived!!! That was my first thought after our yoga class ended Monday night. I survived, I can still speak and walk!! It’s a miracle straight from Heaven!!! I couldn’t believe it. And not once did I give up, so I give myself props for that.

I wanted the instructor prior to class starting that I had never ever ever ever done yoga before. She assured me I was not the only one, there were different levels of people in the class and to only do what I felt comfortable doing. She made me feel at ease and I wasn’t as nervous as I had been. She let me borrow a mat, and we found a spot on the floor. My friend and I were able to be mat by mat, so that was nice, but the lady on the other side of me was super nice and very friendly. I slipped my shoes off and BAM! My toes weren’t painted and there we are barefoot talking about pedicures! Ok, not there to compare feet, here to do yoga. Mental note to fix toes.

We started by some simple stretches and I was pleased that I really could touch my toes. That alone is an accomplishment in my book! We would learn a few moves, then go through the whole thing from the top slightly faster. Then a third time through in what I would describe as a fluid pace. Not fast, just fluid, flowing, easing from one pose to the next. She kept assuring us that we could move at our own pace, doing only what we could do.

She would come around, helping each of us a one time or another with a pose. Straightening a leg here, bending an arm there. Always reminding us to breathe. We went worked on our arms, legs, core, breathing, balance, centering. There were only 2 poses that I was not able to do, one was the side plank. The other…well, I’m not even sure what to call it. We used to do it all the time when I was young and slightly more flexible and certainly skinnier, when you lie on your back and your legs and butt are all the way off the ground. You can even prop your in the air hips on your hands. Then, ya know, you made your legs do pretend bicycle moves. Yea. Couldn’t do it. I think I was more distraught that I couldn’t do that than anything. I used to do that all the time!!

Before I knew it, we were all told to assume the “corpse pose”. Point the toes, palms facing up, and just breathe. She turned the lights off, nothing but soothing “zen like” music and relaxing breathing. How did an hour go by so quickly??

It was shockingly relaxing and invigorating at the same time. I was shaky from using every single muscle in my body, yet surprising loose and limber. Huh. Did I……like this???? Yes. Yes, I think I did!!

Luckily they have classes during the day, Saturday mornings, and in the evening. I called our instructor to tell her she had a convert and I would be back. But now I have homework to do before my next class: Find a really cute yoga mat, and practice getting my ass off the ground and into the air. I know I can, I know I can, I know I can…….